Rockstar dads and their musical kids

Does talent come from genetics? The jury is out on whether musical ability is nature vs. nurture – however, lots of famous musicians do have children who are also successful musicians! Here are some famous musicians whose kids are also finding success in their musical careers. 

 

Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen

“Eddie Van Halen at the New Haven Coliseum 2” by Carl Lender is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

 

 

Wolfgang Van Halen, the son of legendary Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen and actor Valerie Bertinelli, performed in Van Halen (playing bass) alongside his dad until Eddie’s death in 2020. He has played in heavy metal band Tremonti, and also put out two albums under his solo project, Mammoth WVH.

John and Jason Bonham

“John Bonham – Led Zeppelin – photo: Dina Regine” by Dina Regine is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

“Jason Bonham 2009” by Toglenn is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, is a drummer himself, and has played on several occasions with the band’s surviving members. He led the group Bonham in the 1980s and 1990s, and is a member of supergroups Black Country Communion and Sammy Hagar and the Circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John, Julian and Sean Lennon

“Julian Lennon” by Greg2600 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

“Sean Lennon” by Kingkongphoto & www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel Maryland, USA is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian and Sean Lennon are two of late Beatle John Lennon. Julian, who inspired Beatles songs like “Hey, Jude”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Good Night”, has put out seven solo albums as well as fine art collections of photography and children’s books. 

Sean Lennon has put out two solo albums and played with bands including Cibo Matto, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, The Claypool Lennon Delirium and his parents’ group Plastic Ono Band. 

 

Glenn and Deacon Frey

“The Eagles in concert – 2010 Australia – Glenn Frey” by jeaneeem is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

When The Eagles’ Glenn Frey died in 2016, his son Deacon stepped in for guitar and vocals on his dad’s songs at only 24.

Lenny and Zoe Kravitz

“Actress Zoe Kravitz (L) and musician Lenny Kravitz with the LG Electronics Kompressor Vacuum on The 25th Spirit Awards Blue Carpet held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 5, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.” by LGEPR is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Lenny Kravitz’ daughter Zoe is an actress and model, as well as a musician. She’s the front person for R&B and electropop duo LOLAWOLF, which has put out three albums .


Bob and Jakob Dylan

“Bob Dylan (Bring it All Back Home Sessions)” by ky_olsen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

“Jakob Dylan Minnesota” by SydKat is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

 

 

 

Bob Dylan’s son Jakob, the youngest of five, is a singer/songwriter who rose to fame in his band The Wallflowers. He also has a solo career of his own.

 

 

 

Some of the most iconic album covers of all time – and their stories

A truly iconic album cover can define an album and its place in musical history. Some album covers become so recognizable over time, they can define an entire genre – or generation. 

Here are some of the most iconic album covers of all time, and the stories behind them. 

The Velvet Underground & Nico: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

“the velvet underground & nico 1967” by oddsock is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Andy Warhol designed the banana graphic that adorns The Velvet Underground and Nico’s debut album. The band had been featured on Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia event tour, and recorded the album while on the road. The original album art included a sticker version of the banana that could be peeled back to reveal the fruit underneath, although that version required a special machine for printing.

 

The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969)

“Abbey Road- The Beatles” by beatles maniac11 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The album cover for The Beatles’ eleventh album has inspired many parodies and recreations. It was taken outside of EMI studios on Abbey Road in northwest London. The photographer of the shoot only had ten minutes to get the shot, as traffic was being held up behind the shoot. After the album was released, the license plate of the white Beetle seen in the background was reportedly stolen. The car itself was later sold at auction and is now in a German museum! 

 

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (1975)

The cover art for Pink Floyd’s ninth album depicts two businessmen shaking hands, one of whom is on fire. The photographer for the shoot was inspired by the idea of people hiding their feelings for fear of “being burned”. “Being burned” is also a common music industry phrase. To get the shot, the photographer used two stuntmen, one of who was wearing a fireproof suit under a business suit and a hood underneath a wig. 

 

Nirvana: Nevermind (1991)

Nevermind’s cover features a baby swimming toward a dollar bill on a fishing lure, just out of reach. Kurt Cobain said he came up with the concept while watching a documentary on water births. The photographer on the shoot, Kirk Weddle, took a picture of his friend’s four-month-old son, Spencer Elden, which ended up becoming the cover. In 2021, Elden filed a lawsuit against Weddle, Cobain’s estate, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic, saying that the use of his likeness was made without his or his legal guardians’ consent and that it “violated federal child pornography statutes”. A lower court ruled in 2022 that Elden had waited too long to file, but that decision was overturned by the 9th US circuit court of appeals in 2023. 


Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon, 1973

Possibly one of the most recognizable album covers of all time, Dark Side of the Moon features a prism with a beam of white light going into it, dispersing it into colors. Designer Storm Thorgerson was inspired by a photo in a 1963 physics textbook of a prism, according to a 2023 article in Mojo Magazine. The design studio offered a choice of seven images for the cover, but the band unanimously decided on the one that made the cover. “There were no arguments,” said Roger Waters in the Mojo article. “We all pointed to the prism and said ‘That’s the one’.”

 

David Bowie: Aladdin Sane (1973)

 

The lightning bolt makeup David Bowie wore for the cover art for Aladdin Sane is one of his most recognizable looks ever. Bowie described his alter-ego of Aladdin Sane as an extension of his Ziggy Stardust persona, but “Ziggy Stardust goes to America”. Alongside the blue and red “flash” lightning bolt on his face, Bowie’s hair was dyed red and his skin was painted purple. A silver teardrop completes the look. Aladdin Sane was the costliest album cover of its time – Bowie’s team wanted to spend a lot of money on it to ensure that his label, RCA, would promote it extensively. 

Learning to play guitar: Expectations vs. reality

Picking up guitar for the first time is an exciting milestone – but often, first-time players have expectations that are out of line with what they can actually expect. Here are some common expectations for learning guitar, and the reality behind them. 

 

Expectation: You’ll start out playing the coolest looking guitar around. 

Reality: It’s easiest to start learning guitar on  an acoustic guitar – there’s less equipment involved, and you can really master the basics like hitting notes properly, learning the chord shapes, and mastering strumming. 

Don’t worry – there’s plenty of time to get into collecting crazy guitars once you’ve learned how to play!

 

Expectation: You’ll practice every day. 

Reality: It would be great to practice every day, but realistically, life gets in the way. A good goal for daily practice is 30 minutes to 90 minutes a day, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t always make that benchmark. Some helpful strategies to keep you on track: set reminders for practice time on your phone (or on a Post-It), practice for shorter sessions, or use commercial breaks during TV time to get some scales in! 

 

Expectation: You’ll teach yourself everything you need to know. 

Reality: Some guitar heroes were self-taught, but if you really want to learn guitar the right way (understanding the notes and theory so you can easily play with other musicians), you’ll likely need some help. 

Luckily, Fret Zealot has hundreds of lessons at your fingertips, so you can take courses like Complete Guitar Theory Lab at home, whenever you want! 

 

Expectation: You’ll be shredding in a couple of months. 

Reality: Don’t get discouraged if you’re still slowly working through easy songs a few months in. Everyone learns at a different pace, and you need to not only memorize songs, but also build muscle memory! The good news is that the more you practice, the further you get – even if it doesn’t feel like that yet. 

 

Expectation: You’ll learn some of your favorite songs right away 

Reality: You may want to start with “Eruption”, but it’s more likely that you’ll learn “Smoke on the Water” first! Here are some other easy rock songs to learn to help ease you into playing guitar. 

Famous guitar players who have college degrees

Not every professional musician has a college degree. There’s even a bit of a stereotype that most rock stars are high school or college dropouts – which is true of guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Eric Clapton. However, plenty of successful musicians did go the academic route! 

Here are some famous guitar players with college degrees: 

 

Thom Yorke 

“Thom Yorke of Radiohead” by angela n. is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Radiohead vocalist Thom Yorke originally wanted to attend Oxford University, but said that he wasn’t even able to apply because he was “too thick”. Instead, he studied English literature and fine arts at the University of Exeter, graduating in 1991 with most of the other members of On a Friday, which became Radiohead when they signed to EMI.

 

Dexter Holland 

“File:Dexter Holland – 2009.jpg” by opethpainter is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and founding member of The Offspring, Bryan Keith “Dexter” Holland has a Ph.D in molecular biology from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Education was always a passion of Holland’s – he said he found math “just as exciting as punk rock” in high school, and even got his nickname “Dexter” due to his academic skills. 

 

Brian May 

“File:Brian-May with red special.jpg” by Eddie Mallin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Queen guitarist Brian May is a certified star expert. He earned his Ph.D in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007. He held the position of chancellor with Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013 and was a science team collaborator with NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. He’s one of the co-founders of Asteroid Day, and has the asteroid 52665 Brianmay named after him.

 

Tom Morello

“Tom-morello” by Adriangregori is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello said he practiced guitar “six to eight hours a day” while attending Harvard University. He graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies. In college, he played in a band called “Bored of Education” which won Harvard’s Battle of the Band competition in 1986. Chemist Carolyn Bertozzi, laureate of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was his bandmate in that group.

 

Tom Scholz

"File:TomScholz.JPG" by Weatherman90 at English Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Boston’s remaining original member, Tom Scholz, is an MIT-trained engineer who built out his own recording studio. He was 21 when he started learning guitar, a skill he originally thought would just be a hobby. But while working as an engineer at Polaroid, Scholz worked on original music that eventually resulted in a record deal. 

 

Sheryl Crow

“Sheryl Crow at the Midwestern 3” by Cliff 1066 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Sheryl Crow got her Bachelor of Science degree in music education from the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1984. After graduating, she worked as an elementary school music teacher, singing in bands on the weekends. 

 

Rivers Cuomo

“Rivers Cuomo” by Rickmunroe01 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo attended Santa Monica College and enrolled at Harvard after the success of the band’s debut album, the Blue Album (1994). He had to drop out after recording Pinkerton (1996), but re-enrolled and graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. 

 

Guitarists who use unique techniques

Some guitar players are by-the-book with their playing style – and some take the book and throw it away, opting for unique and unusual guitar playing styles. 

Here are some guitarists who use unconventional playing styles:


Eddie Van Halen

“Eddie Van Halen at the New Haven Coliseum 2” by Carl Lender is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Van Halen’s Eddie Van Halen popularized the two-handed tapping technique, showcased in the 1978 instrumental track “Eruption”. Van Halen explained that he watched Jimmy Page play the “Heartbreaker” solo in 1971 and was inspired. “He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string … pull off,” Van Halen said in an interview with Guitar World. “I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.”


Jeff Beck

“Jeff Beck” by MandyHallMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

English guitarist Jeff Beck is regularly included in lists of the greatest guitar players of all time. He had a creative approach to guitar, which involved incorporating the volume knob with his pick and thumb. He also experimented with distortion and feedback during his time in The Yardbirds, and utilized the whammy bar to create unearthly sounds out of his instrument.

 

Jimi Hendrix 

“Jimi Hendrix Experience-‘You Got Me Floatin”-1967″ by scottallenonline is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Another one of the most highly regarded guitarists of all time, Jimi Hendrix broke some guitar traditions by using feedback, distortion, wah, and even his teeth in his playing. A left-handed guitar player, he played upside down and backwards. Hendrix was able to play rhythm and lead simultaneously, a trick he perfected from years of playing in trios, and he rejected the typical barre chord fretting technique, instead fretting the low 6th string root notes with his thumb.

 

James Hetfield

“James Hetfield 2017” by Ralph Arvesen is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Metallica’s James Hetfield has a unique way of holding his pick – he holds it with three fingers, like a pen or quill, instead of the usual two. Maybe that helps him with his signature style of downpicking riffs, creating a staccato sound. 

 

Marty Friedman 

“Marty Friedman – 01” by Hiroshi YamazakiCopyright holder: Marty Friedman is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Megadeth’s Marty Friedman also has an unusual picking technique. He clenches his picking hand in a way that goes against the typical palm mute used in metal music. He also uses upstrokes vs. downstokes, picking by moving his fingers, also known as “circle picking”. 

Five little-known facts about Queen

British rock band Queen is one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, selling over 300 million albums around the world. They formed in 1970 and had multiple huge hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You”, and “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Here are some facts you might not know about the band:


Freddie Mercury designed the band’s logo

“Freddie Mercury performing in New Haven, CT, November 1977” by Carl Lender is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Freddie Mercury, aka Farrokh “Freddie” Bulsara, studied art and graphic design in college. He created a crest insignia for the band, using each band member’s astrological symbol, a “Q”, a crown and a phoenix. The crest is still used by the remaining members of the band to this day. 


Lead guitarist Brian May has a Ph. D in astrophysics

“Brian May” by kentarotakizawa is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

May earned his Ph.D in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007. He held the position of chancellor with Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013 and was a science team collaborator with NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. He’s one of the co-founders of Asteroid Day, and has the asteroid 52665 Brianmay named after him. 

 

“Another One Bites the Dust” became a single thanks to Michael Jackson

Bass player John Deacon recalled that the King of Pop was hanging out with the band in the early 1980s and suggested that they release the track as a single off of their eighth album, The Game. They did, and it became their top-selling song of all time.

 

The original working title for “Bohemian Rhapsody” was “The Cowboy Song”

He originally intended the song to have a Western feel. You can hear it in the song’s opening line (“Mama, just killed a man”).

 

What’s your guitar learning style – and which famous guitarist does it match with?

Everyone learns guitar differently! Take this quiz to find out your guitar learning style – and which famous guitarist shares your learning style. 

What’s your guitar learning style - and which famous guitarist does it match with?

 

 

Everyone learns guitar differently! Take this quiz to find out your guitar learning style - and which famous guitarist shares your learning style. 

1 / 5

How did you learn/how are you learning guitar?

2 / 5

What’s your favorite thing about playing guitar?

 

3 / 5

What's your practice style?

4 / 5

What’s your idea of a great gig?

5 / 5

What’s most important to you as a guitarist?

 

What’s your guitar learning style – and which famous guitarist does it match with?

What’s your guitar learning style - and which famous guitarist does it match with?

 

 

Everyone learns guitar differently! Take this quiz to find out your guitar learning style - and which famous guitarist shares your learning style. 

1 / 5

How did you learn/how are you learning guitar?

2 / 5

What’s your favorite thing about playing guitar?

 

3 / 5

What's your practice style?

4 / 5

What’s your idea of a great gig?

5 / 5

What’s most important to you as a guitarist?

 

Five surprising facts about Nirvana

Nirvana, one of the best-selling bands of all time, was instrumental in bringing the grunge movement to mainstream music. With songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are”, they pioneered a genre that welded pop with noise, featuring lyrics that contained themes of nihilism and alienation. Nirvana disbanded after Cobain’s death in 1994. Drummer Dave Grohl formed the Foo Fighters and bassist Krist Novoselic devoted himself to activism.

Here are five surprising facts you might not know about Nirvana: 

 Kurt Cobain worked as a janitor at the high school he dropped out of 

“‘Twilight’ meets Nirvana” by quinn.anya is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain dropped out of Aberdeen High School a few weeks before graduation, but briefly worked there as a janitor to help finance Nirvana’s first demo. The dancing janitor in the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a nod to that job.

 

Dave Grohl was not the original drummer. 

“Dave Grohl 1989” by Tobby Holzinger / Agentur Spirit is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Even though pre-Foo Fighters Grohl is an iconic member of the grunge band, he wasn’t the group’s original drummer. Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic were in the band since its inception, but the band had at least five drummers, including fellow grunge pioneers The Melvins’ Dale Crover. Melvins frontman Buzz Osbourne introduced Grohl to Cobain and Novoselic in time for the band’s 1991 album, Nevermind.

 

The band went through some interesting names before deciding on “Nirvana”…

…including Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, Bliss, and Ted Ed Fred. 

 

Their first single was a cover 

Nirvana’s first official release was a cover of “Love Buzz” by the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue, who are best known for their 1969 song “Venus”. 

 

The title for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came from a joke Cobain didn’t get 

“With the lights out, its less dangerous, here we are now, entertain us” by dullhunk is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The title for Nirvana’s 1991 grunge anthem came from a graffiti scrawl that Kurt Cobain’s friend and Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna put on his wall, “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit”. Hanna meant to make fun of Cobain for wearing his girlfriend’s Teen Spirit deodorant, but Cobain didn’t know what “Teen Spirit” meant and took it as a compliment.

 

READ MORE:

Learn how to play these Nirvana songs with Fret Zealot

Signature songs of famous bands – and their stories

Little known facts about Jimi Hendrix 

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.  He was one of the pioneers of utilizing guitar amplifier feedback artistically, and helped to popularize tone-altering pedals like fuzz distortion, wah-wah, and Uni-Vibe.

“Jimi Hendrix 1967-cropped waist” by A. Vente is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Here are some facts you might not know about the “Purple Haze” artist. 

 

His name was changed as a child. 

Born Johnny Allen Hendrix in 1942, Hendrix’s name was changed to James Marshall Hendrix in 1946 in honor of his father, James Allen Hendrix (“Al”), and Al’s late brother, Leon Marshall.

 

He started playing on a ukulele with one string. 

Hendrix first got his hands on a string instrument while helping his dad with a side job. The client allowed Jimi to keep an old, one-stringed ukulele that was among the items being removed from her home – and he taught himself by ear to play Elvis Presley songs.

 

He was left handed. 

“Jimi Hendrix Experience-‘You Got Me Floatin”-1967″ by scottallenonline is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

One of the most famous left-handed guitar players of all time, Hendrix adapted by playing his guitar upside down. 

 

He played backup guitar for some huge stars. 

Hendrix started his professional career by playing guitar for some big names, including Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Ike and Tina Turner, and The Isley Brothers. At that time, he was playing under the name “Jimmy James”. 

 

He jumped out of planes while serving in the U.S. Army. 

Hendrix served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division as a paratrooper, enlisting in 1961.  He was even awarded the Screaming Eagles patch in 1962 – however, he disliked being in the military, and later that year was granted a general discharge under honorable conditions.